Tag Archive | civil war

National Authors Day ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

There have been so many books that have influenced by life and most of them have been written before I was born – like before my grandparents (early 1900’s) time.  I find that reading ones thoughts and words from a time so long ago allows me to almost time travel to an era that is so foreign to me but yet also so familiar.  One of the books that has heavily influenced my life is Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by the wonderful author Harriet Beecher Stowe.  In a time that our country was in an upheaval and the whispers of war between the states were kindling, Harriett Beecher Stowe did something that was extremely brave in writing a book about the detriments and heartbreak of slavery.  When the book was published in 1852, it went on to become the best selling novel of the 19th century – and then it went on to become the second best selling book of the century (the Bible, of course, was the first).  Some say that Harriett Beecher Stowe’s book even “fanned the flames” for the Civil War. To learn more about Harriett Beecher Stowe and her remarkable life, you can visit the Harriett Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

francis-holl-portrait-of-harriet-beecher-stowe-1853

(Engraving by Francis Hall after the original by George Richmond n.d.)

In the Kitchen Today…Johnny Cakes

It was a wonderful day in the kitchen.

My daughter in law, Alice, and I made Johnny Cakes. What exactly is Johnny Cake? It is kind of like a cornmeal flatbread and you might even be familiar with these other names used throughout history: hoecake, corncake, ashcake and pone.  Some think that the name Johnny Cake may have even be derived from  the term “journey cake” because the cakes could be taken along on long trips and baked on ones travels. Click here to read more about  the history of Johnny Cake.

The recipe we used today is here.

This was  very simple and easy recipe to make. It literally took minutes and you most likely have these ingredients right in your kitchen.

Some of our notes from today:

The cakes were savory than sweet. Salty. Very dense.  Kind of like a hush puppy.

Not fluffy. The exterior was very crispy.  Interior very moist.

Used unsalted butter. Skim milk.

Made a few small cakes (if you want to make a lot – recommend doubling or tripling the recipe)

It was interesting to make the Johnny Cake in a skillet. I imagine the soldiers would have made this the same exact way – except for over a campfire.  This recipe was so simple and so easy to make and if you get the chance, I highly recommending you making it in your own kitchen. It truly is so fun to make (and taste) foods that our ancestors once ate and enjoyed.

In the Kitchen Today…Molasses Cookies

We spent a wonderful time in the kitchen today with family and friends as we experimented with using an authentic Civil War recipe to make a batch of Molasses cookies. Did you know that one of the most popular foods of the soldiers were Molasses cookies? Sugar was very, very expensive during the war years as well as sugar was slowly processed.  Molasses was an alternative choice due to it being less processed (and less expensive).

Molasses Cookies

“A cup of brown sugar, one of molasses, one of lard, half a cupful of boiling water, one spoonful of ginger, one of saleratus (baking soda with impurities), one of salt and flour enough to roll. Beat the sugar, lard, molasses, saleratus and ginger together; then pour on the boiling water and mix in the flour. Roll about three-fourths of an inch thick and cut with round cutter. Bake in a quick oven (375 to 400 degrees)”

Our notes from today: The recipe called for a “spoonful” of a few ingredients and we had to decide whether to use a teaspoon or tablespoon (teaspoon won!) and because we did not have lard on hand, we used margarine in it’s place and seemed to work just fine.  We also used Self Rising Flour so that we didn’t need to add in the baking soda and salt. Also, the recipe said to “mix in the flour” and it was a fun time trying to figure out how many cups of flour to use (we used a little over 8 cups).  In the end, the cookies came out fabulous and we were very excited to have made an authentic recipe used in the Civil War era.

We used the recipe from Regimental Cooking

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